By KATE BENNER
Daniel Levitin is working to bridge advanced neuroscience and good old rock and roll.
In a lecture titled “This is Your Brain on Music: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Musical Experience” yesterday afternoon in the James Stewart Theater at 185 Nassau, Levitin spoke to around 180 students and community members, addressing the connections between science and art, the development of musical experience and what music reveals about the brain.
“Music attempts to mimic the functions of the brain … more so than speech. Music can represent the complexity of human emotion and its dynamic nature,” Levitin said.
He described humans as expert music listeners, referencing Noam Chomsky’s theory that because children learn to speak before being taught.
Levitin added that “by the age of 5, most children have internalized the rules about what chords progressions are legal or typical in their own culture’s music.”
Levitin then played music clips and asked the audience to identify the wrong note. The audience overwhelmingly found the change.
“All I did was move a note by a semi-tone, which is the smallest legal note,” Levitin said in response.
Levitin said that though finding wrong notes is easy, becoming an expert musician is much more difficult. He pointed to studies showing that expertise in most activities requires 10,000 hours of practice and countered the idea that there could be a single music gene.
Posted by Lorene Lavora